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OLPC in Peru: A Problematic Una Laptop Por Niño Program

Christoph Derndorfer

olpc in peru


At first sight the Peruvian OLPC project “Una laptop por niño” is quite similar to Uruguay’ Plan Ceibal. In both cases the projects are national initiatives which are strongly pushed by the respective governments.

In terms of their current size the projects are also comparable: Uruguay has so far distributed approximately 400,000 XOs and is currently adding 100,000 more laptops to its secondary school system. Peru on the other hand has distributed slightly less than 300,000 XOs to date and recently announced its intent to add another 300,000 over the coming year.

This however is where the similarities end. Uruguay’s 400,000 XOs result in full saturation of the country’s public primary school system whereas Peru’s 300,000 only cover a small double-digit percentage of its primary school pupils. This example already demonstrates what I consider to be a key difference between the two countries: the size of the challenge to make “one laptop per child” a reality.

Of course it’s not just the size of the population (Uruguay: 3.5 million, Peru: 29 million) which makes a big difference here. In many ways Peru’s population is also more varied than Uruguay’s as exemplified by the fact that Peru has two official languages: Spanish and the indigenous Quechua.

When it comes to the current state of the education system Peru is also in a different situation than Uruguay. Whereas Uruguay’s literacy rate is 98%, Peru’s is estimated to be between 90% and 92% with rural areas being closer to 80% where children often also don’t have the opportunity to proceed beyond the first few years of primary school.

Last but not least Peru’s geography – being roughly seven times larger than Uruguay and consisting of the desert coast, high Andes mountain ranges, and inaccessible jungle – and the associated difficulties of building and maintaining infrastructure such as roads, an electricity grid or Internet connectivity also present additional challenges to a project such as Una laptop por niño.

It’s within this context that Peru first announced that it was interested in OLPC in 2007. Similarly to Uruguay and Paraguay the first step was a small pilot project with 60 XOs which started in the village of Arahuay in May 2007. What is important to note at this point is that Una laptop por niño was originally specifically targeted at rural multi-grade schools with a single teacher. While this focus has shifted in the recent past I feel it is worth pointing out that within an already difficult environment Peru certainly picked the most challenging target schools one can possibly imagine.

1. Infrastructure

Charger and non-connected network plug

As already indicated in the introduction the setup and subsequent maintenance of any sort of technical or logistical infrastructure faces tough challenges given Peru’s geography.

On the technical side these challenges certainly haven’t been adequately addressed as a recent evaluation by the Inter-American Development Bank found that almost 5% of the schools which have already received XOs don’t even have electricity yet. In terms of Internet access only 1.4% of the schools are connected at the moment. It’s clear that such a situation makes the implementation of a 1-to-1 computing in education project very hard indeed.

The fact that laptops were distributed to schools without electricity points to several underlying issues. The first one is that the Ministry of Education’s data on the infrastructure available at schools doesn’t seem to be up to date and accurate enough. One example is that a school with a single outlet in the principal’s office is officially listed as having electricity yet obviously this isn’t going to be enough to power several dozen laptops.

Secondly it seems like not enough time was spent on planning the implementation of Una laptop por niño. An example in this area is the way Peru handles the activation and anti-theft system on the XO laptops. Uruguay keeps a database of which child owns which specific laptop (identified by its serial number) which allows for laptops to be remotely disabled when they’re reported stolen. Peru’s database however only includes information as to which batches of laptops were sent to which schools. This lack of granular information means that an anti-theft system such as the one used in Uruguay simply can’t be implemented.

Some of these problems might also be explained by how the implementation of Una laptop por niño is organized. Whereas Uruguay, Paraguay, and most other countries have separate entities focusing on their OLPC efforts in Peru it’s only one of several initiatives that the Ministry of Education’s DIGETE (Dirección General de Tecnologías EducativasDirectorate General of Educational Technologies) is tasked with. In combination with a relatively small number of staff this results in seemingly not enough time and resources being available for Una laptop por niño.

Overall it’s quite obvious that the infrastructure within which Peru’s OLPC project is taking place leaves much to be desired. Whether it’s very obvious problems such as the lack of electricity at schools which received XOs or less obvious ones such as the lack of a central database matching pupils to laptops it’s clear that they will negatively impact the project and make things significantly harder.

One of 45,000 solar panels

Many of these issues seem to be the result of planning oversights and while these can undoubtedly be corrected it will require a significant overhaul of the whole strategy as well as the availability of additional resources. A first step into that direction was the purchase of 45,000 solar panels which are currently being distributed to schools without electricity access. While this will certainly improve the situation in many cases it’s still not a perfect solution given that many of the schools are located in regions with extended rainy seasons which will render solar panels useless for extended periods of time.

2. Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance Una laptop por niño is very much relying on existing infrastructure and responsibilities within the education system to deal with XOs that aren’t working.

On the lowest level teachers receive some basic training to deal with issues such as failures of the activation system or other software problems which can be fixed relatively easily. If a problem that can’t be solved at the school itself is encountered, the next level of support is provided by the local UGEL (Unidades de Gestión Educativa LocalLocal Education Management Unit). On this level, generally one person who is responsible for all technology-related education projects has received additional training to deal with more complex software issues as well as simple hardware repairs.

The next step up the ladder is the DRE (Direccion Regional de Educacion Regional Directorate of Education) which provides a stock of spare XOs which can be used as replacement units or as a source for spare parts. Only if none of these entities is able to fix the laptop, is it then sent to a central repair facility in Lima.

Una laptop por niño repair center

While this system might look good on paper it runs into a variety of issues in practice. The first problem is that many teachers don’t have a USB flash drive which allows them to store the data needed to fix simple software issues. Secondly these repairs also seem to overwhelm teachers, many of whom had never used a computer before they received their XO. The fact that the commands required to fix common issues are in English, in combination with the lack of handouts or digital guides, provides another barrier.

As a result many laptops remain unusable once they’re broken as teachers aren’t able to repair them themselves and when their schools are located in remote regions, it might take several weeks or months until they can be handed over to the respective UGEL. Similarly the UGELs and DREs often don’t have the spare parts or extra machines to deal with breakages either, and getting new stock from Lima often takes more than three months.

The overall result of this situation is that broken machines don’t get reported and don’t get replaced, which means that there are pupils who often have to share their XO with someone else rather than having their own laptop. While I’m not aware of any larger evaluation of this situation, my own experiences as well as those of people I talked to indicate that this is indeed a country-wide problem.

In the end Una laptop por niño demonstrates that even a theoretically well planned maintenance system can run into serious issues in practice. The lack of USB flash drives for teachers for example may seem like a neglectable detail at first but it has a significant impact on the whole system.

3. Content and Materials

Using the XO to learn about geometry

When it comes to content and materials Una laptop por niño’s approach is similar to Paraguay as the focus is very much set on how to use the existing Activities on the XOs to teach certain subject material, rather than developing new interactive learning content. Una laptop por niño’s Web site provides about a dozen or so guides which cover how to use the laptops to teach topics such as geometry, writing poems, and dental hygiene.

Additionally DIGETE has also produced several manuals and guides which focus on how to use the XO laptop, what functionalities the various Activities provide, and similar topics.

Other materials which could be very useful for teachers include the “La laptop XO en la aula” (“The XO laptop in the classroom”) manual which was independently written by Sdenka Z. Salas, a teacher in the South of Peru, and contains a lot advice and suggestions on how to use the various Sugar Activities for teaching.

The problem is that neither the teachers – nor the teacher trainer – who I spoke to were aware of the availability of these materials. Since almost none of them have Internet access at school and only very few of them have USB flash drives there is no way for them to access the content and materials that DIGETE and others – such as for example the OLPC projects in Uruguay and Paraguay – create.

Guide for teacher training

In my opinion this issue really exemplifies why ICT4E projects that don’t provide its participants and stakeholders with Internet access are very hard to implement. Of course there are other offline distribution methods such as USB flash drives and printed materials. However in most cases these alternatives require an additional logistics infrastructure and associated resources compared to being able to point people to a Web site and ask them to check it regularly as part of training efforts.

In light of these circumstances Una laptop por niño recently purchased large quantities of USB flash drives – several hundred thousand from what I gather – to distribute to teachers and pupils. These USB flash drives will come preloaded with a selection of educational content, most likely the documents which are currently available on Una laptop por niño’s Web site. This would provide teachers but also pupils and parents with a baseline of materials to build on. At the same time it would enable teachers and administrators to independently exchange materials which they could access in Internet cafés or while they’re visiting local or regional offices.

It’s clear however that until these USB flash drives are distributed, the grand majority of Peruvian teachers simply will not have access to any content and materials that help them integrate the laptops in the teaching process. As a result the overall impact and usefulness of the few resources that are available today is very small.

4. Community involvement

Unlike its counterpart in Uruguay, Una laptop por niño so far hasn’t created a broader community of people and organizations involved with the country’s OLPC efforts. This isn’t necessarily due to a lack of interest by the broader society but rather seems to be the result of a lack of support for people and groups who are independent of the Ministry of Education.

One group that does exist is Sugar Labs Peru which is based in and around the southern city of Puno and consists of several teachers as well as software developers. Sugar Labs Peru is involved in a variety of activities such as creating manuals for teachers on how to use the XO in a classroom and organizing workshops focused around Sugar Activities.

Another effort that is somewhat community related is OLPC’s Intern program in Peru. The program regularly enables mostly North American students to support teachers in schools with XOs over the course of several weeks.

XO bag designed by Peruvian volunteers

Other individuals and groups who had been interested in contributing to Una laptop por niño in various ways were often discouraged by a lack of support from DIGETE. One such example are students from one of Lima’s private universities who were interested in working on thesis and research projects but ended up going into another direction after their repeated requests for information and official support remained without a reply.

Hence it comes as no surprise that overall the number of people outside the traditional education system contributing to Una laptop por niño is relatively small. Given the limited resources available to DIGETE and the need for a broad variety of support measures – and the impact they have in countries such as Uruguay – this is a shame and an example of a missed opportunity. Again, this is an area were improvements are still possible, however it seems that a lot of the initial good will and desire to support the initiative might have been lost already.

5. Teacher training

As mentioned in the introduction as well as the subsequent articles about OLPC in Uruguay and Paraguay I consider teacher training to be a key component of a successful ICT4E initiative. Similarly to Paraguay I was again lucky enough to be able to attend a teacher training session during my stay in Peru.

In general teacher training in Peru consists of two components: One training session which ideally takes place before the laptops are handed out and then a yearly refresher course. The training that I observed was a voluntary 2-day refresher for teachers who had received the XOs roughly one year earlier.

The initial training consists of 40 hours during a week-long course. Given that many teachers have never used a laptop before the training starts with the very basics such as how to turn on the XO, how to keep it charged, how to navigate using the touchpad, how to type on the keyboard, etc. Since a significant amount of time is spent on these topics there is little left to discuss the educational use of the laptops in the school setting.

Voluntary refresher training course

In the refresher course which I attended again a lot of time was dedicated to dealing with fundamental questions about how to resolve minor software issues and learning how to use some of the Activities. While some ideas on how to use the laptops to teach certain subject matter were discussed overall again too little attention seemed to be given on how to integrate the laptop with the curriculum that teachers need to get through.

The lack of quality teacher training, combined with the aforementioned lack of support materials and manuals or the ability of teachers to exchange ideas or access content online, results in teachers being inadequately prepared to use XO laptops in the classroom.

The effect of this situation is that if teachers use the laptops they mostly ask pupils to transcribe a text from the blackboard or school book in their word processor. Similarly in many cases the use of the XOs seems to drop off significantly two or three months after they are first handed out. This can be interpreted as a sign that the novelty factor is wearing off without teachers seeing a purpose in really using the laptops in schools.

Teacher training could be a way to compensate for many of the infrastructure and content related deficits and difficulties that exist for Una laptop por niño. However in its current state it doesn’t seem to be able to convince the majority of teachers that the laptops are a valuable tool for learning let alone address these additional complexities.

It is worth pointing out that progress in an environment where many teachers have never used a computer before will undoubtedly be slow. However a more intensive initial training combined with regular follow-ups as well as support in the form of manuals could go a long way in enabling teachers to effectively start using the laptops inside the classroom.

6. Evaluation

Early IADB evaluation report

In terms of evaluation of Una laptop por niño the most significant effort is being undertaking by a consortium consisting of the Peruvian Ministry of Education, the Inter-American Development Bank, and GRADE, a Peruvian NGO. The first preliminary report (in Spanish) from that evaluation was recently released and the results are quite sobering.

Similarly to what I outlined above the evaluation for example found that there’s a strong demand for better and more extensive training and technical as well as educational support for teachers. As a likely result of the lack of these supportive measures the use of the laptops drops off significantly after two to three months. The study also indicates that the learning outcomes by pupils who had received a laptop aren’t significantly different to their peers. Additionally it also revealed that only slightly more than half of the pupils are allowed to take the laptops home thereby significantly reducing the potential amount of time that the pupils can use them. Overall the two main vectors that one might consider positive at this point are that pupils’ abilities to use computers has increased and that parents and teachers have a more positive attitude towards schools.

Apart from that ongoing effort some Peruvian researchers previously also published results from independent evaluations that they worked on. While these are obviously based on a much smaller sample of schools, about a dozen or so in some cases, their findings are in many ways quite similar to the IADB evaluation. One such example is a report by Carlos David Laura of Peru’s Economic and Social Research Consortium (CIES) which found that teacher training is lacking and that pupils’ learning achievement hadn’t improved.

One lesson to be learned from Una laptop por niño is that small independent evaluations can often provide first indications and vectors about how an ICT4E project is going before larger and longer-term studies are available. In this sense they can provide a much needed external monitoring tool which provides information and insight which can be the basis for modifying implementation details and strategies.

Overall the efforts in Peru are a good example of the value that both small, short-term and large, long-term evaluations can provide to ICT4E initiatives. Of course considering its size one would expect to see more independent efforts looking into both the educational as well as social impacts of Una laptop por niño. However as described in the community involvement section this also requires institutional support which at least in some cases wasn’t provided in Peru.

Summary and Outlook

Undoubtedly Peru’s Una laptop por niño offers many valuable lessons for ICT4E projects however in the grand majority of cases these will be how NOT to do something. There is no doubt that of the three South American countries I visited, Peru is the most physically challenging environment for a nation-wide 1-to-1 computing in education project. Even with a perfect implementation this would be a difficult undertaking, and with the plethora of issues and problems that the project’s execution has exposed, the results and impacts – or lack thereof – are bound to be underwhelming.

This is not to say that everything about Una laptop por niño is bad. It has undoubtedly opened enormous possibilities for thousands of teachers and pupils which will come up with interesting and creative ways to use the XOs and learn a lot in the process. Yet there’s no doubt that the majority of teachers and pupils as well as other stakeholder such as administrators and parents will hardly see any benefit from the initiative.

While not necessarily directly related to the early lackluster evaluation results, it is interesting to see that in mid-2010 DIGETE significantly changed the strategy of Una laptop por niño. While the main target until then had been rural multi-grade schools with a single teacher, the upcoming 300,000 XOs will be distributed to larger and often urban schools. At the same time this phase of the project will no longer be traditional 1-to-1 computing. The new XO laptops will be used to set up CRTs (Centro de Recursos TecnológicosCenter for Technology Resources) – basically mobile computer labs – at every remaining primary school in the country. This is indeed a very intriguing development, and I’m sure many people will closely watch how this new strategy works out compared to the old one.

OLPC in Peru is part of an overview of OLPC in South America, a first-hand report of XO laptop deployments in Uruguay, Paraguay, and Peru by Christoph Derndorfer.

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157 Responses to “OLPC in Peru: A Problematic Una Laptop Por Niño Program”

  1. I am dumbfounded that only 1.4% of the schools have Internet access and yet there wasn't widespread provision of some sort of offline content and training delivery. USB memory drives are a start, but they're just a thumb drive drop in a very big bucket when you consider the other options, from printed manuals to how-to guides and eBooks that could have shipped on the XO's themselves. Did Peru even think to implement Nicholas Negroponte's oft-stated idea to load 100 different e-books on each XO, to give a great swath of options to each school? Look at what OLPC Canada is doing with original XO content for First Canadians to see what is possible in providing relevant content to indigenous peoples, even without Internet access.Still, Internet access should be the overall goal. The networking effects that full Internet access – even at dial-up speeds – can provide makes many of the logistical issues more or less surmountable.

    • Yeah, I was also very surprised by that figure, especially since when I was in Peru I had been told that roughly a fourth or so of the schools are connected to the Internet… :-/

      While in D.C. I also heard that Peru has been charging telcos a special tax since 1993 and that as a result roughly $200 million are now sitting in a pot which could be used to basically connect the whole country with broadband which is estimated to cost around $140 million. So I'm really surprised that such an effort wasn't implemented in parallel to Una laptop por nino since it would really make things so much easier and more effective…

      • What you're talking about are Universal Service Funds, which are used worldwide to expand telecommunication services into rural areas. In Peru, that FITEL, which is is endowed with 1% of gross revenues billed and earned by telecoms operations. FITEL finances telecommunications projects in rural areas and those places considered to be of preferred social interest through subsidies given to a private operator. So far, it seems like its collected $110 million USD through 2008, but there isn't much record of how much of that has been spent – on telephony or Internet access in rural areas. The best I can find is data from 2004 saying around 25%.

        • Thanks a lot for the clarification!

          Maybe someone reading this has an insight into the current state of FITEL and associated projects?

        • Again the problem is the lack of public information , which is generally true in Peru.

          Peru also badly need more investments in technology and internt , and more competition on internet access providers ( currently telefonica only, and a little bit of telmex in some districts of Lima)

          110 million $ though 2008 ? I wonder where this money goes . . . probably many people dont want to end the telefonica quasi monopoly and see the price of accessing internet going down in Peru.

          I particularly agree that beginning with less OLPC, but investing more in internet connectivity could have helped making it better.

    • O. Becerra

      The number is over 3% in number of schools but almost 2 million children. The XO's are shipped with 205 books preloaded and we are now increasing the number to 400

  2. Eduardo Villanueva

    From the very beginning, DIGETE stated that Internet access was not considered crucial or mission-critical for OLPC deployment in Peru.

    Regarding FITEL: there's little communication between DIGETE and FITEL, and it may be said that there's overlap, to a point, since recent FITEL projects include community telecenters in areas that could fit the OLPC approach perfectly. But as Christoph has said, that's a systemic problem with OLPC and DIGETE.

    • So DIGETE didn't plan for Internet connectivity or alternate means of digital content delivery or sharing? That's very odd. Like they took Nicholas Negroponte at his word that you can "just hand out the laptops and leave" – no digital content delivery, or even a delivery mechanism, and no way to share what the teachers/students might create.

      • O. Becerra

        We designed an offline portal for every school. NN did not prescribe to hand out the laptops and leave, what we understood, and found out to be true is: Even if you hand out the laptops and leave, wonderful things happen in terms of opportunities for Education improvement. Of course if you have better teachers, more support, better nuttrition for children, proper water supply, electricity, etc. etc. more wonderful things will happen but we should not loose the opportunities we have at our hands just because there are not perfectly shaped to a prescription.

      • It is well known that DIGETE designed an imagine for Peru, which includes digital content and a number of Sugar Activities. This image arrives with the machines that are given to the teachers and students in Peru.
        There is also initial training for teacher, which being complemented by a support structure (which has been revised and improved in the last year). Like Oscar pointed out, 40 or 400 hours or initial training are not going to improve quality of education overnight… and the problem is not that teachers can't use technology, it is much deeper that that. The problem is that teachers entered the system with poor education and preparation to teach those children.

        One thing I have learned, not only in my doctoral thesis, but also as I work and visit OLPC deployments around the world. Given the computer to the children and letting them use it freely at school and home makes a HUGE difference to a deployment. If the teacher motivate and guide the learning, results are even better!

        • hello claudia,
          seems like you may know why the computers in Peru are using an operating system from 2007? as sugar volunteers we always wonder.

          • Hi Laura, I work for OLPC, not Peru, and that is a question that Oscar should answer.

            OLPC would like to see deployments using the latest version of Sugar… I don't think I have to explain the reasons, we all know them. We also know that updating machines in remote places is not easy, and that is a task volunteers should be able to help with.

            • thanks for your answer Claudia. Still, as volunteers we haven't been able to help updating the machines since they are locked. What do you suggest we do?

              • So the Peru XO laptops are running a 2007 version of Sugar and are all locked. As there isn't Internet connectivity or a volunteer support structure to help, the DGITE would need to physically visit each school to unlock, update, and relock each laptop.Maybe the USB flash memory drives could be pre-loaded with a script to do that on their first install into an XO. But that's probably thinking too far outside the box.

          • Oscar Becerra

            We need users to progress by doing new things with the tools they receive not needing to learn to do the same things again and again which seems to be the situation when you keep changing versions of operating systems. Something that may seem trivial for an experienced user may be enough to frighten away the inexperienced one, as I know first hand from trying to get my wife a, so called, better cell phone It is also better in terms of knowledge sharing to have a standard nationwide version for the SW.

            • This is actually the official argument of DIGETE to have a *policy not to update the software* in the XOs. This has tremendously hindered our ability to bring bugfixes, updates and new activities to the schools, as version 703 from 2007 is a severely limited version of Sugar. As Sugar volunteers and developers in Peru, we have worked hard in bringing new and irrefutably improved versions of Sugar (regarding usability). At the same time, our hands are tied due to the centralized security system which will only let DIGETE update the operating system.

        • Well, it might be well known but I certainly managed to miss it… 😉

          In any case: Do you know if Peru's software image is online anywhere or whether one can find a list of the content it comes with? I spent quite some time looking for something like that but unfortunately didn't find anything.

    • Eduardo, thanks a lot for the input. Do you happen to have any insight into how well (or not) connected the CRTs in the next project phase will be?

      • O. Becerra

        There are three thousand connected schools with about 2 million students so far. They will all receive a CRT

    • O. Becerra

      It is false there is little communication between DIGETE and FITEL, we are working with them to capitalize on each others' efforts, as well with several other government agencies in order to leverage efforts

  3. I certainly agree that XO laptop success does require careful, context-driven design and capacity building, with the children, their teachers, and their communities and that it can serve as a catalyst for infrastructure investment what would otherwise wait generations.Yet, I see Peru as a reminder that there needs to be all these activities for any olpc program to succeed (regardless of the technology used). Uruguay did not succeed because their country is flatter and smaller than Peru. Uruguay did not succeed because it had better infrastructure or smaller class sizes than Peru. Uruguay's success and to a great extent, Peru's problems, directly relate to the level of investment in the supporting ecosystem to make any new technology implementation successful. Had Peru chosen to invest more across the deployment or rolled out the deployment out in a smaller scale to match a limited budget, we may have seen a better result.You speak of "several examples" where this might be the case – relatively poor communities that were able to overcome their starting point to achieve deployment success – which might those be? What lessons could we draw from them?

    • Contrary to tone, I think we are agreeing with each other. I never suggested that the nature of Peru's terrain had anything to do with the success of the program (although the remoteness of villages just 100km outside of Lima is dramatic).

      I am not sure how to reconcile "Uruguay did not succeed because it had better infrastructure" and "Peru's problems, directly relate to the level of investment in the supporting ecosystem". You can invest in infrastructure and capacity, design to compensate for them or a combination of the two. My point is that Peru, and other countries, can address all the above and more but they are not yet capable of starting at the point at which Uruguay did and to suggest that they must is an unrealistic prerequisite for working in the developing world. You seem to be saying the same thing. The discussion of scale is a red herring.

      You have actually chronicled the successes of many olpc deployments in your forums and all of them have been in relatively poorer communities. Perhaps the discussion should shift to defining "success" in the context of each program and their ability to meet their objectives, and manage to address challenges.

      Nonetheless a snapshot, http://tinyurl.com/29786v6.

      • We are agreeing, but scale is the real differentiator. Peru started far behind Uruguay in both infrastructure & ecosystem, so it should have increased its investment in both or reduced scale to match the investment it could make. With a finite budget for XO, infrastructure & supporting ecosystem, Peru could've started with 100,000 XO's (vs. 300k), and made a greater investment in infrastructure (like Internet access) and ecosystem (like teacher training) rather than XO's themselves. So scale is very central to the point I'm making – when budgets are finite, change scale to make sure success factors can still be met.The successes we've seen in relatively poor communities have followed that concept – they've scaled their projects (and success goals) to match their investment in infrastructure and ecosystem based on what's existing (or not).

        • Wayan, scale is a differentiator, but primarily because organizational capacity is inadequate, particularly as concerns planning and project design. As we've all seen (thanks to OLPC News) well-founded implementations of the XO (or of other solutions) can achieve some level of impact; the shocking aspect of Christoph's article, from my point of view, is how on a point-by-point basis DIGETE has replicated critical errors that have recurred in ICT4E since, oh, 1996 or before.

          @Christoph: "This is not to say that everything about Una laptop por niño is bad. It has undoubtedly opened enormous possibilities for thousands of teachers and pupils which will come up with interesting and creative ways to use the XOs and learn a lot in the process." Of course you're right (and of course you need to include a "all hope is not lost" sentence in your article.) But the critical, and I mean critical, problem with a shoddy OLPC implementation in a resource-constrained education environment is that funds that could be spent on, maybe, teacher training or better data collection and management — two major areas of problem that you identify in the 'ecosystem' — are spent (not to say squandered) on hardware and implementation (and rush-purchased solar panels, flash disks etc) when the education infrastructure isn't in place to receive the product.

          The question isn't impact or no impact, but does this project's impact outstrip other forms of input.

          (I'm sure this isn't news. We can also probably agree that the OLPC imprimatur mobilizes way more funds than, say, tying teacher wage improvements to certification in a project-based learning course would. But still… that PBL course would pay dividends once some XOs started to appear in classrooms.)

          • It took us almost two years to purchase the solar panels so I don't see it as a rush-purchase. Teacher education is a major goal and a program on itself. The Ministry has already given courses to almost 180,000 teachers (the ones who took the census evaluation in January 2007) and spent $300M over 3 yrts just in that program. The results of those courses moves the numbers from 27% teachers at 0 level of reading comprehension to 13% in the first year. BTW a 100% percent increase in teacher salaries during 2001 2006 did nothing to improve education quality due to union resistance to tie increases to performance

        • Oscar Becerra

          Interesting approach but I don't agree. We will rather improve slightly 100% children than increase the difference between those who receive and those who don't. The problem with pilots, as Costa Rica once pointed out is you never get to the production scale and the experts involved in the pilot usually leave aftert finishinf their studies

      • I would like to follow on a key issue you mentioned: "success". Is it success according to who? Every single OLPC program is different in the initial conditions and resources, and should be only evaluated according to its goals and its individual progress… we may disagree with those goals.

        Are we taking about infrastructure? that is a different issue. Yes, I would like to see Internet getting to those teachers and students in remote areas!

        • Thanks for bringing this question up again. Since you first tweeted that question I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about it.

          The current status quo of my considerations (which are still very much work in progress) is that contrary to what I might have previously said at the end of the day the OLPC projects general goals are actually quite similar. The differences can be found in the starting points, different national contexts, and approaches however at the end of the day the two keywords always seem to be quality and equal access to education.

          Of course even once one has defined what "success" is there's the even bigger difficulty of measuring or generally figuring out whether or not one has achieved it… 🙂

          • I also remind myself about that… all the time! I can't make my own judgments, but take into account the local's goals, the local situation, local vision.. of course, one may try to influence and advice based on experience. Perhaps success has to be associated with what the children are able to achieve, learn, share.. how they developed as learners, and how that has implications and impacts the community, etc. The elements (or considerations) won't always compute the same results.

            Comparing two programs such Peru and Uruguay is impossible. They are run by a different organization, they had different goals, they had different local capacity to start with (and how far have they each gotten?), they very different conditions (climate, terrain, etc)… there is no way to compare those.

    • O. Becerra

      We are not seeing any results yet because there is no way a major intervention can have overnight results. According to the IDB experts, two or three years is a reasonable period to wait before observing results. Your comment seem to assume little projects can be scaled up but that is not true. I have met the Uruguayan team several times, we have discussed our stratagies and found out the approaches are right for each reality but not swappable. I would probably had done exactly what Miguel Brechner did in Uruguay in terms of strategy and he would have probably done what we did if we were in each others' shoes

      • which mechanisms are going to be available to measure the results? are they going to be open to the community?

        • Oscar Becerra

          IDB is running a multiyear impact experimental study

  4. Oscar Becerra

    Part I
    Your article reminded me of my Mother in Law praising the flavor of coconut in the Piña Colada I invited her when it had no coconut at all. She was just expecting it no matter what. Of course my opinion will be biased, but at least I am stating it beforehand. Here are my comments to the article and some of the facts I mentioned you during the hours spent with you during your visit, which you have conveniently ignored.
    It is mostly full of half truths and extrapolations with no hard data to support them, it also has the same lack of understanding of Peruvian reality that is common to many first world visitors who can't see what is before their eyes just because they are so used to seeing other things, remember the Tragedy of the Commons.

    • Oscar,

      apologies for the delay in replying but real life matters unfortunately kept me away from the keyboard for the past 72 hours.

      First of all, I'd really like to thank you for your extensive comments, feedback, and additional information, much appreciated! Your comments – rather than my original article – also resulted in a lot of interesting discussions on the various mailing lists as well as right here so I think the broader community is really seeing some benefits here.

      Now, I'll try to reply to your comments on the respective threads but would like to point out two things before I begin.

      First off all, unlike what you say in your comment above ("some of the facts I mentioned you during the hours spent with you during your visit, which you have conveniently ignore") the two of us actually didn't meet while I was in Peru as you were out of your office on the two days when I visited DIGETE. Hence I couldn't have "conveniently ignored" facts you told me.

      Secondly – while we probably will have to agree to disagree here – I would argue that the article isn't "full of half truths" and whenever possible I tried to attribute information to the hard data sources where I obtained it from (e.g. connectivity and electricity figures from the IADB evaluation report).

      Also, I explicitly pointed out in the introductory article to this series (/olpc-in-south-america/olpc-in-south-america-an-overview-of-olpc-in-uruguay-paraguay-and-peru/):

      "As the sentence above already indicates a lot of my impressions are based on interviews and talks with a broad variety of people. Additionally I visited schools as well as teacher training sessions in all three countries."

      This article series is very much my personal view of things, a snapshot of a moment in time so to say, with all it's associated strengths and weaknesses. It mustn't be confused with an evaluation like the IADB or any other research facility would undertake but rather serve as the basis for further discussion of the associated topics, methods, and results. Looking at the discussion this article caused this worked well and was understood my everyone involved in them.

      More comments coming up soon… 🙂

      • Oh, one more comment about the "first world view" thing since I also saw that come up in the discussions on one of the Peruvian media articles you mentioned:

        While I'm hardly an expert I would also argue that I'm not quite the totally clueless gringo either. As I again pointed out in the introductory article I lived with a Peruvian host family and went to secondary school (Colegio Claretiano) in Trujillo for 11 months between August 2000 and July 2001. I then went back in 2005 and now again in 2010. Again, that doesn't make me an expert but I believe I do have learned to at the best of times be able to take a step outside and look at things from a different perspective.

  5. Oscar Becerra

    Part II
    Let's begin with the situation of Peruvian Education: There are 8.6 Million students 75% public 25% private; 80% urban, 20% rural (200,000 attend almost 10,000 one teacher schools). Of a total o 490,000 teachers 65% are public school and 35% private; 83% Urban and 17% Rural. There are 75,000 Schools, 75% Public 25% Private; 52% Urban, 48% Rural. 66.3% children 3-5 attend PreK-K schools. 94.4 Attend primary schools and 76.5% attend secondary schools. According to 2009 reports almost 80% children 12-14 have finished primary school (6th grade) and over 60% of 17-19 youngsters have finished school (11th grade). In all cases the trend is growing. In spite of the above the Latin-American average coverage ratios, quality remains an issue: Peru rated among the worst in Math reasoning and Reading comprehension in 2001 PISA (the last reported year available for Peru). Irresponsibly Peru opted out of PISA and returned in 2009 (results to be reported in 2010).

  6. Oscar Becerra

    Part IV
    Let's go to your article:
    You say one single outlet is not enough, probably by your standards, we know for sure that single outlet is already being shared to plug, not only the several dozen laptops, but also the several appliances the community shares because of that single outlet. Not ideal but true. You say the lack of granular information is the reason why the Uruguayan anti-theft system cannot be implemented. Not true. The Uruguayan approach cannot be used because we lack the connectivity they have. That is why we disable the laptops periodically and they must be re activated; an offline but effective system (a delay is expected and Andean people are familiar with it).

    • regarding power outlets: Considering how many millions of dollar were spent on the XOs alone I cannot understand why schools didn't receive simple extension cords so every child (or however many the schools electric system can handle) can charge his XO simulantenously. In some of the classes I visited teachers had bought extension cords with their own money so at least for some of them this seems like a good thing to have. In two classrooms I visited several children had to stop working mid-stream as their batteries ran out and the four workings outlets in the classroom were already in-use. I think ensuring that every child has access to a working device should be one of the fundamental things in a 1-to-1 computing in education project so teachers can use the tool whenever they see fit. Seeing that extension cords would be a quick and inexpensive fix here I don't understand why teachers have to deal with this unnecessary burden.

      regarding the anti-theft system: I totally understand that Uruguay's system can't be implemented in Peru today. Yet what I argue is that failing to collect the necessary information at the time of distribution will make any associated efforts in the future significantly harder. I understand the concerns going into deciding whether to spend resources on things that matter in the short time versus things that matter in the long run. However given that collecting said information would have only required a tiny bit of extra effort if it had been done since day one, yet will require significant resources if done in the future (e.g. collecting information about which child owns which specific machine x 600,000 times), I again fail to see the logic here. Hence my conclusion in the infrastructure section:

      "…the result of planning oversights and while these can undoubtedly be corrected it will require a significant overhaul of the whole strategy as well as the availability of additional resources."

  7. Oscar Becerra

    Part V
    Not enough time and resources available. Partially true, of course we could use more resources and staff, one problem Peru is facing is the lack of qualified human resources, therefore waiting has no sense, we needed to begin with what we had and improve on the road. We don't deny things are harder because we are in Peru but trying to imply we should wait for Peru to become Uruguay is complete fantasy, if I had the option I would chose to transform Peru into Finland or Singapore, if dreaming, let's go for the best. The argument for waiting for the support infrastructure and quality of teachers to improve has been posed by ICT industry representatives in order to support their “begin little” approach that is probably aimed at maximizing profit and revenues over time. Following your line of thought the issues that seem to you result of planning oversight don't require a strategy overhaul but a country infrastructure overhaul that may take decades.

    • The "begin little" approach is a practical one – not some greedy scheme. Its a desire to concentrate limited resources in a small group to understand the issues and costs once a project goes to scale. It is also the concept that scale should be relative to the resources available to scale.

      In the typical ICT deployment, actual hardware costs (in this case XO laptops) are usually 20% or less than the overall implementation cost. Using that measure and a $60 million XO purchase ($200×300,000), did the Ministry of Education budget $300 million for related implementation costs? And by this, I mean DIGETE staff time, teacher training, content development, curriculum change, school facility improvement – expenses that have nothing to do with technology companies or their profit motives but everything to do with successful change management in a complex system such as Peru's educational establishment.

      If Peru didn't have $300 million, maybe it should have scaled its deployment to match the budget it did have, rather than spending much on hardware and little on all the rest.

  8. Oscar Becerra

    Part VII
    Your description of the maintenance process is also inaccurate: the DRE are not one step more in the process, the XO's go from UGEL to Ministry. You mention machines may take weeks or months to get from school to UGEL to Lima and that may be true for some schools, but it is equally true for anything there, you are not probably familiar with the kind of distances we have to deal with. The most remote town in Peru is 45 days away from Lima. If you own a blender or a radio in remote towns and they break or malfunction, your will have to wait months before you have it fixed. That is simply the way things are in remote villages, are you arguing those places shouldn’t have computers just because they are too remote to have a maintenance facility just hours away? We don't agree.

    • Okay, then I obviously got the part about DRE's role in the process wrong. Apologies for that and thanks a lot for the clarification. (Though it doesn't change my fundamental argument.)

      Again, having spent many nights and days on busses going between Peruvian cities and towns I do understand the remoteness of many parts of the country. However due to a lack of time I unfortunately didn't make it to these areas. My comment about the up three months it takes to get XOs fixed is based on what several teachers in the area around Huaraz (note: a city which is a 10 hour bus ride from Lima) told me. Hence in these cases the cause of the delay must lie somewhere in the maintenance system and process rather than the remoteness of the schools.

      As for your last sentence ("are you arguing those places shouldn’t have computers just because they are too remote to have a maintenance facility just hours away?"), this now is an extrapolation that you're making… 😉

      As I clearly point out in that section's last paragraph I believe that the maintenance system is well designed. With the aim to train teachers to do simple repairs themselves it provides an excellent solution for the remote areas of the country that you're describing. Yet again it is my impression that the execution of that plan lacks some important components such as handing out USB flash drives to every teacher as well as providing them with a paper copy of a simple repair manual. As a result at least the teachers I spoke to weren't able to do these repairs themselves which is a real pity. So in my opinion this is an issue which can be addressed quite easily.

      • What I should also point out here is that the necessary repair manuals already exist (see http://www.perueduca.edu.pe/olpc/OLPC_programa.ht…. However based on what I was told they aren't part of the XO image so teachers can't really access them.

        Oscar, can you comment on whether my information is right or whether the XOs do ship with the repair manuals as part of the standard image?

  9. O. Becerra

    Part VIII
    You say many teachers don’t have a USB flash drive. Of course they don’t, many also don’t have a digital camera, a microwave oven or safe drinking water supply and many other things that may seem natural to urban people. We are giving each teacher a flash drive but it doesn’t mean the laptops don’t have information to help them while the USB drives are distributed and they familiarize themselves enough with the XO to be able to use the drives. The barrier is not just they have not used a computer before, it is more profound in many cases and not a matter to be solved with 40 hours or 200 hours training, it is a problem to be solved in the long term, but we need to begin working and not only with teachers but with the community at large and have faith in their willingness to learn when given the opportunity. I’ve been told Mr. Ford once said the car technology was hopeless because there would not be enough trained drivers; and Margaret Thatcher was sure in 1969 there would never be a female prime minister, at least not in her time. You should join their History club.

    • Seeing what I consider to be an important role that USB flash drives could play in areas such as maintenance and content distribution in an offline environment and considering how little money they cost I again fail to see why they weren't included from day one.

      But then again, given that teachers are now apparently going to receive USB flash drives I don't see a point in argueing about this anymore:)

  10. O. Becerra

    You say the focus is set on how to use the XO activities to teach subject material rather than developing new interactive learning content. Not true, the focus is on teachers and children to use the XO’s in ways they see fit with what they know how to do and feel comfortable and engaged to do. It happens that teachers who have six different grades in the same (and only) classroom just find it good to use computers to help them teach, even if that help is having some children using the computers to copy text while they teach other students something else.

  11. O. Becerra

    Part X
    You mention Sdenka Salas’ book as a useful resource. Did you notice the approach you suggest will have Sdenka’s school and region out of the target list of schools? Just the fact there is a Sdenka and many others who are finding their own ways, in spite of the hard conditions they face, justifies doing it the way we are. You seem to advocate for the convenience of just pointing people to a Web site and ask them to regularly check… This suggestion brought to my mind the comment by Marie Antoinette when faced with the claims of French people because they did not have bread “Why don’t they eat cake instead?” Of course pointing to a website is better and we would like to have more than the dismal 3% schools connected but universal connectivity is not around the corner and we needed to begin improving education immediately and with what we had at hand. It is worth pointing out the 3% of connected schools cater the needs of almost two million students so don't manipulate data to your convenience.

    • Mr Becerra,
      Is important to clarify that Sdenka's School [glorioso san carlos] is not part of the deployment.

      • It will be soon, but she is supporting some of the OLPC schools and those are the ones I refer to

  12. O. Becerra

    Part XI
    You say it is clear that until the flash drives are distributed… teacher will not have access to any content… Are you purposefully ignoring the laptops come loaded with hundreds of reading texts, a 30,000 entries Spanish Wikipedia and several other things that just by themselves mean a quantum leap compared to what teachers and students had available before? Or is just that you only see what you want to see. You say the impact and usefulness are very small. Compared to what? When the father of three children mentioned how proud he felt about his nephews from the city now visiting them on the weekend because “they don’t have computers in their homes or public city schools” should I have told him not to be so enthusiastic because your kids don’t have access to Internet yet and they are not using the computers as kids do in Miami? The improvement in self esteem and the concern for education in the communities are also part of the change we are aiming for and not a negligible part of it.

    • Not remembering the Spanish Wikipedia even though I had actually used it is indeed a significant oversight on my part. In another comment above you also mention 205 books which come preloaded on the XOs which was another thing I didn't know. Apologies for that, I'll have to revisit the corresponding section of the article.

      Is the Peruvian XO image available for download anywhere so I can take a look at the content it comes with? Or is there a list of the customizations, including the addition of the books you mention, which I can find somewhere? Thanks in advance.

    • Most of the laptops are loaded with Wikipedia Spanish texts (I am not joking, Wikipedia texts) and distributed to kids in elementary schools?
      I am studying a doctorate in Education and never heard that Wikipedia texts were the the better pedagogical choice for kids in elementary schools.

  13. O. Becerra

    Part XII
    You mention the lack of support for people and groups who are willing to help. False again, not only we are supporting several of them, we have set up a small but enthusiastic unit to interact with groups willing to support our efforts, what we cannot do is fund them and that severely limits what we can do. So far we have helped and provided information to students and researchers from USA, Spain, France, Germany, Finland, Mexico and Japan, among others. We also ran a program with two local universities to bring about 50 education students to 139 villages to help teachers use their XO’s better. Our information is open and available, I personally respond to most e-mail requests. Of course improvements are possible in many areas and we are constantly looking to improve. Wasting our time in responding unjustified criticism is certainly not helping.

    • Rafael Ortiz

      In this sense, the problem is not only support from the government, it's collaboration work between stakeholders, i.e not a top-down approach that is needed, for these projects to succeed (even more at large scales), the government must not be alone in all the implementation process, somehow a mixed model must be achieved.

    • Mr Becerra,
      Our group of volunteers [ http://somosazucar.org ] would love to access the support mechanisms the ministry has available, as you state. Where can we find information about this? What kind of support can we expect?

      • Contact Carlos Corzo at ccorzo@minedu.gob.pe. We may help you find suitable schools for your support efforts and coordinate with them so you will be able to go there formally and develo whatever you plan, as far as it is aligned with the overall objectives of the program

        • Our objective is to connect sugar users [children, teachers and parents] along environmental and socially sensible areas [like the upcoming amazon forest Inter-oceanic Highway]. We have worked with volunteers from Chile, Perú, Colombia, Finland and Germany and came with this plan. We are aware that we need to polish the details, and for we are willing to keep working as long as we have access to the real numbers of the deployment.
          We believe in open communications: todos@somosazucar.org http://somosazucar.org/2010/05/01/presentacion-pr

    • I spoke to several people and groups who were highly motivated to contribute to the project but had found no way to get in touch with DIGETE or anyone else who could guide and support them. The fact that Sugar Labs Peru didn't know of the support you're mentioning here is an indication of some communication breakdown along the line. And seeing that this communication is now being enabled as a result of this discussion here is certainly a great step into the right direction.

  14. O. Becerra

    Part XIII
    You mention the lack of quality teacher training results in teachers inadequately prepared to use the XO. I disagree with the statement. It is the lack of quality teacher education that results in teachers inadequately prepared to face a classroom, and this structural problem will not be fixed by training them to use computers. Just so you get an idea of the kind of problem in terms of teachers’ quality, the schools of education received about 15 thousand applicants in 2006, all of them were accepted, and most of them will get their teachers’ diploma this year. In 2007 the Ministry required a common entrance examination and 70% grade minimum for acceptance. Out of 13,000 applicants, just 450 passed. After 5 years of poor quality preparation (on the average) there is no way “training” either 40 or 400 hours will fix the problem overnight, even if we had the resources to do it. You suggest teacher training (understood as better teaching quality) as a way to compensate for infrastructure deficits, my only question to that suggestion is where do we get those teachers?

    • So the average Peruvian teacher is not a worthy resource for XO deployment then? Are they even worthy as an educational resource?

      • O. Becerra

        That is your conclusion which we don't share. Most Peruvian teachers are really committed to their work, it is not their fault they were so poorly prepared for it. We know they improve a lot when given the opportunity and we are working to help them.

      • Again, teacher lack of knowledge and experience with technology is not the issue, that is why initial teacher training for the program is not immediately translating in improvements in education. As far as I know, Peru has involved, trained, and supported teachers, and is planning to continue to do so. Those strategies will give continuity to the program.
        At the same time, I believe in students as well as teachers using the XO and the resources available in it to explore, learn and create. I would like to believe that it is happening in those small/remote schools in Peru, and that as time goes by more infrastructure arrives to bring even greater opportunities to them.

        • Claudia, with all due respect, what you would like to believe is far from what those of us who've been in the field have observed. Training is superficial and scarce and support infrastructure is almost nonexistent. Of course OLPC should know this but it seems to us like it chooses to ignore it. As non-for-profit suppliers OLPC has a duty to its stakeholders (the children!) to recommend and even demand of deployment teams and ministries to act responsibly. Delivering the laptops to the most remote/poor regions of Peru without any hope of support, is failure by design. The reason of course, was political and OLPC knows this.

          • icarito, thanks for your message. It is hard to make a general statement about who OLPC is, does and understands. My personal position, with or without and OLPC hat, is to recommend and continue to work together with the ministries, governments, foundations, etc. We will continue to recommend and recommend again, and find ways to support. OLPC can't demand.

            how can "Training is superficial and scarce and support infrastructure is almost nonexistent" be political?

            • The political decision was to deploy in the most remote / poor regions. From this big mistake on, deployment design has been a mess. Thanks for answering. OLPC could recommend more publicly.

    • The IADB report and Carlos David Laura's research both point towards a high demand for more and better teacher training as well as continued pedagogical support for teachers. This is undoubtably a hard challenge but as mentioned in the article I believe it's something that can be addressed with more intensive initial training combined with regular follow-ups. Of course implementing those will require a significant amount of resources.

      Also, you're certainly right about the broader and long-term issues when it comes to teacher's education. So here for example a question is whether the curriculum for people studying to become primary school teachers today include the XO given that it will be a tool that every future primary school teacher will soon encounter in their classrooms?

  15. O. Becerra

    Part XIV
    I was invited to Finland to understand their educational system and find ways to improve ours. In the summary session I mentioned my hosts that I have really found the quick fix to all Peruvian education problems: We just need 300,000 Finnish teachers who speak Spanish, move them to Peru and it’s done.
    Even if teachers were able to use computers in the classroom in prescribed ways, I don’t think it will solve the problem of better educational outcomes. The recently published study “Are the new millennium learners making the grade?” by OECD shows no positive correlation between frequent use of computers at school and better school performance, whereas there is positive correlation between frequent use of computers at home and better school performance. My reading of this finding is computers should be used in comfortable and fun ways, not following the training class recipes delivered to teachers. We did not know about the OECD findings in advance but it seems to support our approach and not your suggestions.

    • So are you saying that your preferred approach would be to just give XO laptops to the children and don't involve teachers or the formal education system at all, and don't have the XO's in the schools (except maybe to recharge them)?

      • As a "preferred" approach, I would tend to suggest that as well (I am a foreigner living in Peru for the last 3 years and developing an open source e-learning platform, which puts me in contact with a lot of teachers in the main cities of Peru, not the remote villages).

      • O. Becerra


  16. O. Becerra

    Part XV
    You mention the IDB study and say it concludes that laptops use drops off significantly after two to three months. I have read the study and met with the research team several times and that is not a conclusion. By the way, the study is very clear to state it is known no significant results should be expected after just one year of any intervention and it is no surprise OLPC is not the exception.
    It certainly amazes me that when you refer to negative results it is always as a certainty, there is no doubt. But when you talk about positive things, like improved abilities to use computers or positive attitude towards schools, you don’t say it is good but only that it “might be considered positive”. Aren’t you sure positive attitude towards school and improved computer skills are good things?

    • Okay, maybe my Spanish is the issue here but how do you interpret this sentence:

      "Una vez aplicado el componente cuantitativo, respecto del uso efectivo de las computadoras portátiles en las aulas de las escuelas que las recibieron, un hallazgo preliminar interesante, es que entre aquellos maestros que tenían más tiempo de haber recibido las computadoras en su aula, los usos pedagógicos disminuyen." (page 9 of that IADB report)

      Rough Google translation:

      "After applying the quantitative component, for the effective use of laptops in classrooms schools that received an interesting preliminary finding is that among those teachers who had more time of receipt of the computers in her classroom, educational uses decrease."

      To me that sounds pretty clear cut.

      As for the second part of your comment: I do agree with you, the "might consider positive" doesn't really make sense there. I would definitely say that better attitudes towards school as well as increased ICT skills are a good thing. 🙂

  17. O. Becerra

    Part XVI

  18. O. Becerra

    Part XVI (with apologies for the previous empty comment)
    You refer to Peruvian researchers findings implying their studies are serious and reliable. There are no statistically valid studies published so far (at least that I know of). Some people have carefully sought places where computers are not being used in order to make it to the news. As I have told several people who have asked me about the 16 schools mentioned in one of those publications, if requested I can probably find more than 16 schools where computers are not being used properly, since we are giving computers to tens of thousands of schools there probably hundreds who use them outstandingly, not so well, and really bad but reaching conclusions based on such selective election of schools is not valid.

    • First of all I'm not necessarily a big fan of conspiracy theories like "Some people have carefully sought places where computers are not being used in order to make it to the news".

      Secondly I cleary point out that these studies are based on very small samples.

      Last but not least I personally do believe that the results are quite serious, reliable, and valid since "their findings are in many ways quite similar to the IADB evaluation". Again, you might not agree with them, but the desire for more extensive teacher training is something that both Carlos David Laura as well as the IADB report mention.

      My main point overall was that I would like to see many more evaluations of Una laptop por nino, both ones that go broaders (e.g. social impacts) as well ones that go deeper into specific topics (e.g. reading and writing abilities). I think having them would be of tremendous value to both Peru and the broader ICT4E community.

      • With relation to empirical evidence, excepting the study of Banerjee et al. [1] which showed some short-term effects of ICT in academic performance, most of evidence of positive impact of ICT in academic performance is based on correlational studies, not strong research designs.

        On the contrary, evidence that shows limited or no effects of ICT in academic performance are based on randomized experimental designs and multilevel modeling (strong and poweful research designs) using standardized tests like PISA and similars. In the following papers you can find more evidence showing that pro-ICT discourse (ICT4E) is more a myth than a reality based on empirical evidence:

        Angrist, J. & Lavy , V. (2002). New evidence on classroom computers and pupil learning. The Economic Journal, 112, (October), 735–765.

        Barrera-Osorio, F. & Leigh L. (2009). The use and misuse of computers in education: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Colombia. Policy Research Working Paper Series 4836, The World Bank.

        Fuchs, T. & Wößmann, L. (2004). Computers and student learning: bivariate and multivariate evidence on the availability and use of computers at home and at school. Brussels Economic Review 47(3-4), 359-385.

        Linnakyla, P.; Malin, A. y Taube, K. (2004). Factors behind low reading literacy achievement. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 48(3), 231-249.

        Rouse, C. & Krueger, A. (2003). Putting computerized instruction to test: A randomized evaluation of a "scientifically-based" reading program. Economics of Education Review, 2004, 23(August), 323-338.

        [1] Banerjee, A., Cole, S., Duflo, E., Linden, L. (2007). Remedying education: evidence from two randomized experiments in India. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 122 (3), 1235-1264.

  19. O. Becerra

    Part XVII
    We have found increases of more than 50% in variables related to intrinsic motivation towards school work in children of 139 schools visited by local university students as part of a support program we developed with two local universities (the ones whose requests for support we usually ignore according to your article). Whenever I mention these results I very clearly state they are not experimental and statistically valid but a good base for more serious research (something the so-called researchers you mention never do). According to your conclusions the effort should go to multiply evaluation efforts rather than to improve technology access, I would like you to explain a hungry child the money that could be spent in giving him some food is being spent in finding out if feeding children is good for them.
    It is surprising how you can conclude contradictory things. You say OLPC has undoubtedly opened enormous possibilities for thousands of teachers and pupils and also say there is no doubt the majority of teachers, pupils, administrator and parents will hardly see any benefit from the initiative. How can both statements be true, please explain.

  20. O. Becerra

    Part XVIII
    You finish your article saying we have significantly changed the strategy by going to the CRT’s. This is not true. What we have done is developed a strategy to take advantage of several things: a) poor people are used to share things and they were already sharing their laptops; b) SW technology allows for computers to be virtually 1 to 1 when we have a small server hosting the computer image for every child, we can make it one virtual laptop per child; c) with very little additional investment we can be able to include features that let several students work with one computer (among other things) at the same time.

    • So in this CRT model, the laptops are imaged for each child, with the images stored on the server. We're talking XO laptops, right? Not a thin client/server architecture, but actual fully portable XO laptops. This is new and interesting.

      Now let's say I am child A, I get an XO laptop with my image, take it home, do whatever, bring it back, the server will then store that image, and Child B gets a while other image (of their data).

      How will all that imaging happen? Will there be an automated process or will there need to be a server admin who does this image management? Or will there just be a clear image every time (no unique user saved data)?

      • wow wayan,, that´s an exciting question,, but don´t be worried,, we´ll be able to answer to this by 2025 : ) take it easy,, kids in the countryside are really used to this kind of delay : /

      • Oscar, I would appreciate a better understanding of this CRT model. What you describe sounds like an innovation in OLPC deployment practices and hardware configuration.

        • I will share a deeper description of the CRT concept later next week since your questions require some involvement from the development team to clarify. You may want to contact Hernán Pachas directly (hpachas@minedu.gob.pe)

    • So you're saying rather than changing the strategy you're now going to use a newly developed strategy?

      I'm not going to argue semantic details here but do believe that the shift you describe represent a new stage of Una laptop por nino.

      As you'll also be well aware of Sugar is currently very much built around the concept of an XO being owned and used by a single child. Hence going to the shared model you describe will require some software changes which to the best of my knowledge haven't been undertaken yet. I started a discussion about this on the sugar-devel mailing-list back in August (look for "Enhancing Sugar to support multiple users" on http://lists.sugarlabs.org/archive/sugar-devel/20… and created a trac-ticket for it (http://lists.sugarlabs.org/archive/sugar-devel/2010-September/thread.html).

      Also, I'm very seriously intrigued about this approach and think it will yield some very interesting data and information, particularly since you can do an in-country comparison to the other deployment strategy.

      In the end all I'm saying that going from 1-to-1 to a different model does represent quite a shift in my opinion.

  21. O. Becerra

    Part XIX
    The CRT’s include a server, a conventional laptop with a multimedia projector, access points and educational robotics kits, together with selected content to be used by teachers, students and the community in a way similar to Internet navigation. Students will be able to take the laptops home whenever it is safe and taking turns. Communities are already seeing the benefits of this approach because they are able to organize many different activities from reading session for the recent literate adults to basic computer skills developing workshop for young adults to computer literacy for parents, among others. We are not doing this instead of one laptop per child, it is our way to get there. Hopefully regions and future governments will be able to increase the student to computer ratio. So far, we will reach OECD average ratio of 5 to 1 by the end of next year, and that is certainly a quantum leap for a country like Peru. So just to finish let me quote the Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha when he said “ladran Sancho, señal de que avanzamos” (Dogs bark Sancho, it is a sure sign we are going forward).

    • Rafael Ortiz

      I congratulate and recognize all the efforts of DIGETE and Ministry of education of Peru, but articles like this cannot be taken as bad intentioned critism, on the long run we as humanity need that projects like OLPC and Sugar succeed and success needs critics and corections in all the way.

      • O. Becerra

        I agree, at least opartially with you

      • Same here, your real friend is not the one never criticizing you , your best friend is the one trying to tell you the truth, and showing you the bad points, so you can make it better.
        I cant understand why some would feel attacked by this kind of article, I m sure the goal is to help moving the things and make it better for everyone.

    • I met with a bunch of people related to the OLPC Perú initiative(s), but never met someone as knowledgeable about the global and local Peruvian situation as Oscar seems to be. Your point of view is great and it has been practically impossible for me to find (all) that information on the web, which makes this article and the subsequent discussion an incredible work. Thanks.


    • Thanks a lot for the additional information about the CRTs. From your comment it sounds like they're in operation already, do you have any information on how many pupils or schools have been able to benefit from them so far?

      Also, after spending the past four hours reading your comments and replying to them I really want to thank you for taking the time to share your views, insights, and information. Thanks to your input this discussion has become much more fruitful and interesting than I could have ever dreamed of when I wrote the article. Thanks.

  22. O. Becerra

    Thanks to you, I hope discussion will be enlightening. My only concern is when information is partial and conclusions are reached based on foreign paradigms that may no be applicable

    • As mentioned above I think the discussion has already been very enlightening:)

      As for the partial information: I think it's understood that any piece of writing regardless of whether it's an e-mail, blog post, newspaper article or research paper is the result of the best-possible effort. I wrote my article and drew my conclusions based on the information available to me and as mentioned in a comment earlier I will have to revisit certain topics such as the content one given the new information that you mentioned.

  23. Oscar, with all due respect, are you telling us with a straight face that because of state procurement burrocracia Peru is paying $40 for something that actually has a $15 price tag? and that for education purposes? The saddest of it all is that probably it is true you are doing your best. Remember that Hernando de Soto study, "El Otro Sendero"? If I remember right about how things went in Peru during the late 80s it would have been 500% instead of a 150% markup.

    • The $15 price is ex-works, advance payment, China. You need to add, among other things: Local representative establishment, proposal preparation, technical support team in Peru, several years warranty, need to have national techniocal support, profit margins to make the local channels interested. To give you an exampl: I undserstande this kind of extra requirements made the price for the XO's climb from 188 ex works to about 700 for Brazil and left 2 million Brazilian children with no access to technology so far

  24. Who is responsible for "Partial information" ?

    Why this information you gave us here and now could not be found on the internet ?

    Bad websites ? Information only in flash or pdf that cant be found using google ?

    what are "Foreign paradigms" here ? giving one s opionion on something ? No one do that in Peru ?

    • What I mean by foreign paradigm is thinking you can figure out what is happening in rural towns of the Andes with a limited experierence of looking at it and thinking of your experience while sitting in a comfortable first world office. Opinions are always welcome but that does not makes them true or even correct.
      Maybe the information cannot be found on the Internet just because all information is not on Internet, there is still some in the real (as opposed to virtual) world

  25. @obecerra: I´m really amazed, such a good and long argumentation, but let me say, this would all be so much easier and impacting if you could once admit there are some small things that could (should) be improved, (so bad you haven´t been reporting of -natural- problems or difficulties for such a long time) … it would be so much more challenging and engaging to frequently read about constant follow-up, calls for support, training, ideas, problemsolving, etc…. Besides, it shouldn´t be just you yourself convincing everyone else in this blog…. don´t you have an advisory board? how do you take decissions on a project costing more than a hundred million bucks? shouldn´t technitians working in peruvian olpc deployment be more active in olpc forums? do they speak/read/write english? how can they be updated/get help for supporting the olpc deployment if they don´t use global olpc/sugar forums, websites, wikis to communicate? you are doing now an excellent argumentation, congratulations, but there is no proof that your team has been doing an excellent job, sorry…. Of course a not less important ammount of responsibility should fall on NN, who didn´t care for this problems. #fail

    • Of course there are lots of things that can be improved, sorry I did not stated that clearly before. We are usually in contact with people who are helping us. I simply don't have the time serious writing in forums require. Now I can because it's a long weekend and I cancelled a trip to present our experience at a conference. Sad but most of our staff don't speak/write/read English, that leaves 2 or 3 of us to do the writing if not in Spanish. IDB report could be read in many ways, depending on looking at the half empty or half full glass.Discussion is good, the problem is it's use to push their own agendas. The two Peruvian media covering CD article mention he is one of the founders of OLPC and who has visited Peru and reported its failure. In spite of not agreeing with many of CD conclusion I don't think that reading is correct. BTW when we got one of 2008 UNESCO prizes for ICT in Education or this year when OLPC Peru was chosen among hundreds of projects from 89 countries as one of 30 finalists of the WISE prize for innovation in Education it did not appear anywhere in Peruvian media. Good news usually don't sell as well as bad ones and we must live with it.

  26. raulchoque

    It is very important remember what is the main objective of OLPC Programs around the world. The main objective is to improve the learning of math and language, to develop ICT skills, to develop team work, and to have better communication among students, teachers and parents, etc. Researchs says that now we do not have enough evidence about the impact in the learning of math and language of this kind of programs. In the same way IADB affirms that we will see the impact of this program in three or four years and not in one year.
    But there are reserachs in Peru that says that students are improving ICT skills and secondary effects such as communication and team work. I think it is very important to research about the secondary effects of this kind of programs.
    This research was developed in Lima: http://www.sav.us.es/pixelbit/pixelbit/articulos/
    I think that in the assessment of this kind of programs it is neccesary to measure the impact on social effects, abstract reasoning, communication, access to information, etc.

  27. raulchoque

    For example in Etyopia, the Groningen University is doing research about the social effects of OLPC. This kind of assessments are more important because they measure the process of OLPC instead of the results.
    I am a teacher of Peru and I am doing a postdoctoral Research at Groningen University and I think that the implementation of OLPC in Peru is a process and it is more convenient to know also what are the challenges and new opportunities for the students with the use of computers.
    I visited schools in Huancavelica, the poorest reagion in Peru, and found that students are not absent in schools, students are learning with new technologies and teachers have access to computers in public Internet booths.
    The OLPC program in Peru is a good opportunity to improve the education system. Also, we will see the results in the following years.

  28. I visited Arahuay (one of the pilot schools) about 6 months after the introduction of OLPC machines. I asked a number of questions of the teachers there, but the key one was (which I intend to ask again, whenever I have the opportunity to visit Peru again):

    1) is your job easier or harder having the laptops?

    The answer was easier: the students much more engaged and interested in learning. An generic example the teachers gave was before it had been very difficult to motivate the children to learn any foreign language, and that the fact they saw themselves at the edge of a very large world now provided them with that motivation.

    If laptops made the teacher's jobs harder (they are already too hard), the project, at least in schools, was doomed to fail, in my mind.

    As a specific example of this, the teachers gave an example of a boy, who often arrived at school in the morning without breakfast (the school provides a lunch), had been very disruptive (in part, due to hunger), had become an expert at using the computers, and was teaching his classmates (and the teachers) as a result.

    I look forward to seeing the outcome in Peru in coming years; I'd like to bring my family to have a better perspective on the reality on the ground and the challenges countries like Peru and people like Oscar face. It is one thing to sit in an air-conditioned house and office in the U.S. or other parts of the developed world having had the advantages of all it has to offer; it is very different when you see conditions on the ground.

    As to where Arahuay is (and it is not remote on Peru's scale), it's at: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&am

  29. The other reports we have from Arahuay are that computers there are allowed to be used if kids have finished their assigned dictation/blackboard copy work, thus as a sort of a gadget-treat for those who do "good" tradional schooling work. Could you confirm?

    Also, I believe you got a most important question to ask / solve. I agree 120% that unless these things make teacher work easier, they will have less of a chance to be accepted. Then maybe we will try to figure out if they make teacher's work /better/.

    BTW, this famous kid in Arahuay had me write an article at some moment – I still wonder if the teachers getting him participate may not be the most valuable thing that educational community has learned so far… http://www.olpcnews.com/use_cases/education/nices

    • I visited Arahuay maybe six months after the trial started (as described in Carla’s reports). I don’t know the answer to your first question about whether the kids are allowed to use the computers when they have finished their other work first or not; I was there for (part of) one day. The kids were *clearly* using the computers after school, as I have pictures of them elsewhere in the town doing so that I took. So you have to also factor in the kid’s learning after school (and to be fair, whether they were learning before by some other way during that time). I’d really like to return and visit Arahuay again, now that they’ve had computers for a really significant period, and again ask my top question. Financially, I don’t know when I can afford the trip: I’d really like to take my family with me when I do. I also don’t know if the child the teachers were referring to who had been a behavior problem is the same or not as the one you refer to in the link; though it is likely. The child as described to me was clearly bright, but also had been very disruptive, in part, due to not having enough to eat before school. Clearly doing anything for talented kids is tough when you are struggling to meet minimum educational and health needs. The premise of “one laptop per child” is that there has to be enough computers around that the teachers can count on the kids having them available when they need them for assignments: what would make teachers really upset is to have to plan two curricula every day (I know, my wife is a second year school teacher, and I see the effort that goes into lesson planning). This is also why computer labs which kids just have access to a few hours a week have failed over many years. If Oscar’s people have figured out some other ways to reach an intermediate position which works with less than 100% penetration, great; what is known not to work is the scattering of a few machines that makes them something that can’t be easily planned for by the teachers. It’s hard enough to prepare one class; asking teachers to prepare two on top of the teaching day is a recipe for disaster. People in general don’t “get it” about how much interesting books fit on a current laptop: while there were some books around at Arahuay (I visited the boarding house where about half the student population lives during the week; many only return home on weekends, as it is too far to walk to and from school every day.), the richness of content of even “conventional” book form is truly huge; and Arahuay is still reachable by road. I bet you the next school even one day’s walk from Arahuay (it is at the end of the road), has many fewer books. Think about some of the schools Oscar is responsible for: one laptop transported for weeks or a month or more, probably weighing no more than 4-8 books (remember, you also have to transport solar panels and/or other supplies for power, so it’s more than a 1 or 2 to one ratio), can have the same information on it as hundreds of books. Seems like a pretty good trade to me. But the proof will be in the pudding, which is now in the oven. Also think of the challenge of getting qualified teachers: part of the mythology in the developed world is that teachers are well educated and mean well. I certainly know that first hand: I’m married to a school teacher. But when you get remote, it gets really hard to find good people, and, in Oscar’s case, they often spend as much time traveling as teaching in remote areas. How do you even find people to take those jobs, how qualified are they, and how much of the time do they actually teach? The kids really do often have to “teach themselves”; at best, they have a part time teacher of often dubious qualifications. This is something many of the critics of OLPC never seem to conceive of, sitting in their air-conditioned offices with their $1000 plus computers… The world is a big place, and it isn’t like what we see on TV…

      • In Peru we have the expression "Colegios de Miércoles" (Schools of Wednesday) for schools where teachers spend two days getting there and two days going back home making Wednesday the only school day

        • Interesting. Wasn't aware of the term. For non-native speakers maybe it's worthy to annotate that the expression can also be read as "shitty schools" since "miercoles" (wednesday) is often used as an euphemism for "mierda" (shit) so there's some (considerable I think) amount of sarcasm in that expression too.

  30. Rafael ortiz

    Not entirely related, but as a personal conclusion from this debate, one is getting the idea that future rates of success of OLPC deployments may be based on integration, horizontal or lateral as you might prefer, but a real integration. We need innovation in education, and this can only be achieved taking advantage of intersections of ideas. Some governments tend to think that percentages are more important than quality, and obviously this has led to very poor rankings in international tests of proficiency of education for most of LA countries. While Asian countries have understood this, we seem to be suffering a chronic blindness, where we have an scenario of experts and government counselors telling what to do with education without listening or paying attention to culture variables and overall civic changes specific to each country.

    • Integration is key. Too many times I see governments aiming for basic quantity – computer per student ratios – and not even computer usage per child, much less qualitative outcomes like increased reading or math skills. Yet we all fall into that trap. Peru makes news because its 300,000 XO's but OLE Nepal, which I would argue is a more holistic and successful approach, hardly registers.

  31. Esto es un fracazo más y ahora disimulado del demago gobierno aprista, pero que se puede
    esperar de esos dinosaurios carentes de verdaderos técnicos, quién s estará haciendo rico con

    • The correct spelling is fracaso not "fracazo" and it would be interesting to see why you think what you think. My guess is you have no idea.

  32. Mr. Becerra, please can you send us the link where the budget of the OLPC program is? Year by year would be nice. Thanks.

    • Our budget is published yearly with the National Budget law

      • link, please?

        • Estimada(o) Icarito… No existe en el Ministerio de Educación una base de datos publica (es muy probable que una de índole privada si exista) donde se registre o se haga un seguimiento estricto de a la adquisición, instalación, configuración, mantenimiento y reposición de cada una de las 500,000 computadoras X0 que existen (o existirán en nuestro país.
          Sin embargo, desde el siguiente link

          puede seleccionar la base de datos que requiera para hacer el seguimiento correspondiente a todos los programas y proyectos del Ministerio de Educación.

          Saludos cordiales.

  33. Caryl Bigenho

    Actually, there are three official languages in Perú. Aymara is the third.

  34. Caryl Bigenho

    I notice that the workshop for teachers does not deal with Constructionism at all. See this from the Mochilla Digital Workshops as a contrast:


    They don’t spend a lot more time but manage to include it.

  35. Un primer aspecto que es necesario precisar: la experiencia uruguaya y la peruana son procesos distintos. Si bien es cierto, ambas buscan lograr equidad y posibilitan un mayor y mejor acceso a la educación. Sus procesos son distintos.

    El énfasis cómo política de Estado en Uruguay es mayor que el caso peruano. En Uruguay el Plan Ceibal es un proyecto socioeducativo desarrollado conjuntamente entre el Ministerio de Educación y Cultura (MEC), el Laboratorio Tecnológico del Uruguay (LATU) http://latu21.latu.org.uy/es/ , la Administración Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Antel) y la Administración Nacional de Educación Pública (ANEP) http://www.anep.edu.uy/anepweb/servlet/mainanep que integra la Comisión Coordinadora de la Educación, organismo consultivo con sede en el Ministerio de Educación y Cultura.

    En el caso peruano es el Ministerio de Educación es quien tiene sobre sus hombros gigantesco esfuerzo. La participación de Ministerio de Transportes y Comunicaciones no se hace sentir de manera orgánica y conjunta y en nuestro país no contamos con una institución similar al LATU que de el soporte tecnológico.

    A esto se suma, en el caso uruguayo, que el movimiento de voluntarios es una fuerza social movilizadora cercana a la escuela http://rapceibal.ning.com/ En el Perú organizaciones similares no tienen presencia cómo iniciativa privada o del estado.

    Esto es una primera gran diferencia que debe tomarse en cuenta.

    El otro factor es el geográfico. Desplegar la distribución de laptop XO en nuestras escuelas ubicadas en valles interandinos, zonas altoandinas, ceja de selva y llano amazónico no es una tarea sencilla. A esto se le suma que los datos estadísticos de las escuelas no están actualizados y puede traernos sorpresas como la del ejemplo que se hace mención.

    “One example is that a school with a single outlet in the principal's office is officially listed as having electricity yet obviously this isn't going to be enough to power several dozen laptops”.

    En mi recorrido por escuelas en zonas rurales, se observa que los datos sobre número de niños y niñas, infraestructura, mobiliario, servicios y lengua no se actualiza. Hoy se vienen haciendo esfuerzos, para atender programas sociales, contar con datos más cercanos a la realidad.

    Sin embargo, percibo que el artículo enfatiza en esta situación cómo una generalidad.

    • Estimado Koke… el ejemplo de Uruguay es muy claro y la experiencia de Chile (con Enlaces) le da la razón. Los ministerios de educación no pueden ser lo únicos abanderados de programas de este tipo. Es necesario que integren a las universidades, empresas y las organizaciones de la sociedad civil, así como a profesionales independientes y serios. Es un tema critico… democratizar al Ministerio de Educación y a las instituciones educativas del país. Pero como siempre y como en todo lugar… existen casos ejemplares donde las cosas si funcionan y funcionan bien dentro del MinEdu.

  36. The situation in Peru is typical of the shenanigans inherent to a banana republic's government. What's new under the sun? Mr. Becerra must be commended for his fierce – if Quixotic – attempt at covering the sun with one finger, but the air has the strong smell of "fiasco".

    I feel sad for the Peruvian kids and the Peruvian teachers thrown under the bus – "our problem is that our teachers are so poorly educated that they can't educate anyone, so we bought these useless computers to solve the problem" is the essence of Mr. Becerra's immoral argument.

  37. Hola,
    He tenido la suerte de estar en Perú el año pasado, y conocer la realidad de este país; creo que el informe presentado aqui, y sobre todo su comparación con Uruguay (soy Uruguaya) es muy acertado.
    Quizás el gobierno debería apoyar más la implementación del OLPC y como dice aquí buscar, al igual que en Uruguay, que otras organizaciones se involucren en el proceso.
    En cuanto a lo que dices Atahualpa: "nuestro problema es que nuestros maestros están tan mal educados que no se puede educar a nadie" Es una cuestión de fondo, "Qué cara es la EDUCACIÖN en Perú y que pobre es la Educación Pública! Deberían invertir mucho más en Educación y dar posibilidades más grandes a quienes quieran formarse.
    Este es un punto que se olvidó mencionar en este artículo, al comparar con Uruguay. Nuestra educación es mayormente pública y de muy buen nivel.

    • Hola Ana,
      También soy uruguaya y debo decir que el tan mentado Plan Ceibal" ha sido usado como arma política y su implementación un vergonzoso desastre. Por lo que leí del artículo sobre Peen todo" rú, aunque un poco a las apuradas, Perú parece haber empezado por el principio = entrenar e informar a los profesores. En Uruguay recién se está comenzando ( yo soy formadora de profesores e hice el primer curso de ICT para profesores de Inglés en el Uruguay en el 2007) pero cuando ofrecí ayudar no hubo el menor interés. Porque en Uruguay "lo saben todo" y eso genera lo que yo llamo la "arrogancia de la ignorancia". Por lo tanto la comparación de Perú con Uruguay me parece inválida.
      ´Muchos uruguayos siguen sintiendo que son la "Suiza de América" y no se dan cuenta que se les paró el reloj en el tiempo. La Educación en Uruguay en este momento es vergonzosa tanto a nivel público como privado.

    • Estimada Ana… me parece que no hay punto de comparación entre dos sistemas educativos que son totalmente distintos en sus dimensiones y en su historia, antecedentes, movimientos sociales, que lo han configurado a través del tiempo.
      Por lo tanto la comparación que hace el autor me parece vacía. Existen cientos de factores por que una tecnología puede funcionar o dejar de hacerlo al interior de un sistema y no en otro, sobre todo si conversamos de sistemas sociales y de sistemas educativos y sociales donde su estructura funcional es más estructuras y jerarquizada por la necesidad de ofertar, a una masa critica de estudiantes y docentes, las condiciones para que puedan desarrollar aprendizajes y enseñanzas.
      Lo que si me parece válido es contar las historias por separado y alimentar cada una de ellas con lo mejor de una y otra… Saludos cordiales… desde Lima Perú…

  38. Oscar, as pointed out earlier the two of us didn't meet while I was in Lima so all of the information you present here is news to me. I only found out about the solar panels distribution when I visited DIGETE's warehouse in Av. Venezuela.

    Based on what you're saying here it does seem like this aspects was largely outside DIGETE's control. Yet I still question the feasibility of solar panels in many parts of Peru given the extended rainy seasons. I personally don't understand the point of handing out laptops in areas where electricity is at worst unavailable or at best unreliably available for only a limited time during the year. This kind of aligns well with Wayan's comment above: If less money had been spent on laptops then more resources would have been available to ensure that the schools which did receive laptops could actually use them as often as possible (e.g. by provisioning generators or covering extra fuel gasoline expenses due to the increased power requirements).

  39. Robert, after our extensive discussion about Uruguay being *the* model (or not) when I was in Cambridge I've thought quite a bit about this topic.

    I think there are several clear examples of aspects where Uruguay can't possibly be a model for a country such as Peru or Nepal. One example is maintenance where Uruguay's approach (central repair facility + mobile repair teams + cooperations with local IT shops) works half-decently well in its context yet would be entirely unfeasible in Peru or Nepal. Hence I think the solutions being developed in those two countries are despite some downsides significantly more suited for the country specific environment such as lack of road infrastructure and geography.

    Yet despite this I think, and I have repeatedly said that, Uruguay will very likely nevertheless be considered *the* model within the OLPC context. In my opinion the main reasons for that are that

    (a) they did it and achieved saturation
    (b) it's a relatively well documented project and
    (c) Plan Ceibal is very vocal about it and wants to become a global center for ICT4 initiatives

    This is why I believe that publicly (!) documenting what happens at the many OLPC pilots and deployments is so important. OLPC News articles, the forums there, edutechdebate, the various OLPC and Sugar mailing-lists / wikis as well as OLPC's M&E report are important steps in that direction. The current UK based work on updating the deployment guide as well as the connections people made during the recent summit in San Francisco could also yield significant results. I think at the end of the day what we will (hopefully) have is a whole range of different tried'n'tested approaches and methods when it comes to implementing olpc in a variety of different environments.

  40. Luis Camoes

    Hola estimados amigos del Perú, leo sus post y veo que el problema explotó, se está desenmascarando lo que estaba tras cortinas de los mil y un spots publicitarios del gobierno, "el Perú avanza" …, hacia donde?, pero en materia de ciencia y tecnología, debe ser hacia atrás. Pronto terminará este gobierno
    y como las OLPC no traerán votos, no le va importar al gobierno aprista y sus técnicos de escritorio resolver este asunto, el próximo se encargará de terminar con el proyecto y millones de dólares se estarán perdiendo y unos pocos habrán hecho su dinero con esto. La solución puede venir de los colaboradores voluntarios, que vienen haciendo ya grandes esfuerzos por eso y el estado no reconoce y tal vez ni tenga idea de que existan.

  41. If empirical evidence shows that books more than computers have an impact on academic performance, I ask:

    Would not it be better than the ministries of education of Latin American countries like Peruvian allocate their limited resources on inputs that do have a direct effect on academic performance rather than electronic devices which positive effects have not yet been demonstrated conclusively?

    What do you think guys?

  42. With relation to empirical evidence, excepting the study of Baerjee et al. [1] which showed some short-term effects of ICT in academic performance, most of evidence of positive impact of ICT in academic performance is based on correlational studies, not strong research designs.

    On the contrary, evidence that shows limited or no effects of ICT in academic performance are based on randomized experimental designs and multilevel modeling (strong and poweful research designs). In the following papers you can find more evidence showing that pro-ICT discourse is more a myth than a reality based on evidence:

    Angrist, J. & Lavy , V. (2002). New evidence on classroom computers and pupil learning. The Economic Journal, 112, (October), 735–765.

    Barrera-Osorio, F. & Leigh L. (2009). The use and misuse of computers in education: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Colombia. Policy Research Working Paper Series 4836, The World Bank.

    Fuchs, T. & Wößmann, L. (2004). Computers and student learning: bivariate and multivariate evidence on the availability and use of computers at home and at school. Brussels Economic Review 47(3-4), 359-385.

    Linnakyla, P.; Malin, A. y Taube, K. (2004). Factors behind low reading literacy achievement. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 48(3), 231-249.

    Rouse, C. & Krueger, A. (2003). Putting computerized instruction to test: A randomized evaluation of a "scientifically-based" reading program. Economics of Education Review, 2004, 23(August), 323-338.

    [1] Banerjee, A., Cole, S., Duflo, E., Linden, L. (2007). Remedying education: evidence from two randomized experiments in India. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 122 (3), 1235-1264.

    • Ian Thomson

      Hi Carlos,

      It is easy to explain the minimal impacts most ICT for education projects have had on better learning.
      ICTs are a powerful tool ,but if you just add them to the existing system of teaching and learning without making any other changes, the impact will be minimal. The real value of any tool comes from re-engineering the process.

      When we start using ICTs to help develop better learning pedagogues, collaborative and distance learning (both in the classroom and around the world) and use of interactive Open Education Resources, then we will see some real powerful education outcomes.
      And the students that learn that way, will be well prepared to enter the workforce and get highly paid jobs.


    • Carlos,

      Thanks for these sources. Leigh Linden's works are particularly helpful in understanding the complexities of empirical measurement of impact. You might also see Linden, L. (2008). Complement or Substitute? The Effect of Technology on Student Achievement in India. I believe this paper came out of the same analysis you cited with Banerjee and Duflo.

      I had a small role in designing the IDB study of the OLPC program in Peru. One interesting finding of the short study published thus far on the IDB website, is the actual level of penetration into existing pedagogy, curricula, and home environs. The depth of ICT adoption and integration is critical, and even more so when looking at resource allocation decisions such as the question you pose about books.

      Even in OECD countries, as seen in the report Mr. Becerra cited above (“Are the new millennium learners making the grade?” OECD), the level of ICT usage and curricula integration is fairly low and, as a result, so are the positive impacts found in empirical analysis. Usage at home and in extracurricular settings is found to hold significant (though small) positive impact, and similar findings came in from Linden et al (2008).

      The "second Digital Divide" hypothesis, then, seems to make good sense. That is, the "first" digital divide concerns access (and lack thereof) to ICT. The second divide, after excluding non-users, concerns the access to the demographic 'ecosystem' that allows for productive, critical, and resource-rich usage of ICT. At the forefront of the most productive usage, the "C" in ICT should be put in bold letters.

      After all, the interactivity of these tools is one of the most important factors to consider when comparing them against established resources such as textbooks. I think this is also what Ian is saying in his comment below.

      Another important factor to consider, in the throes of comparative evaluation, is that these deployments, as resources, are (in my opinion) here to stay. The functional and critical skill sets are already essential, worldwide. Peru is making important and time-critical headway in this regard. The potential rate of return on these resources must always be considered and readjusted as the deployment improves.

      Even this forum might help influence the deployment tactics from DIGETE outwards, which is incredible. Mr. Becerra's participation in this dialogue is to be commended. I think it highlights the very best of interactivity and it's potential for fruitful discussion.

      In short, I agree that empirical evidence is scant and often null in terms of impact, but that many of the measurement matrices are not yet looking at "mature" deployments, or considering the full breadth of ICT4E's long-term effects and role.

  43. It's interesting to see that this debate has started another in Peru. The news article about this post http://peru21.pe/noticia/661525/critican-programa… already has 45 comments and counting. I would love an English synopsis/summary of the main points made in the discussion.

    • It s incredible to read this article beacuse all that things, i think, are true. The people think that Peruvian Goverment "and their 40 thiefs" (like Ali Baba) had the perfect reason to put more money in their bills and bank accounts with this XO Program. Are there Factibility studies? Something say no. People are indignant because the problem go deep. It s not the laptop, is the infraestructure and the absence of a real educational program for all. Im graphic designer and once i worked in a company that makes books for children, primary and secondary. I like to make a eduactional tool that emphasize the use multimedia education but i dont know if the effort that i would put on it, is of interest of a politic donkey. My gmail is: luisjordan.design@gmail.com. Thanks for your interest in our problem. I m sure many peruvians are thinking how to waste their money in our new malls.

  44. Don't feed the trolls.

  45. Martin Vega

    Acceso + Conocimiento = Apropiación
    Access + Knowledge = Appropriation
    For that there is an appropriation of ICTs is necessary to access the Internet, it is necessary that children and teachers have the knowledge to use these technological tools and above all there is an educational support, the only way we can have use of ICTs as tools for life and will not be in a year, is to view an entire generation.

  46. @ Carlos VR says: “If empirical evidence shows that books more than computers have an impact on academic performance, I ask : Would not it be better than the ministries of education of Latin American countries like Peruvian allocate their limited resources on inputs that do have a direct effect on academic performance rather than electronic devices which positive effects have not yet been demonstrated conclusively?”

    The answer is definite NO.

    Computers, just like.. um …books, don’t teach – people do. Of course I am not teling you what you don’t aleady know; just reminding us all as this discussion goes stratospheric. The problem with books especially in the Knowledge Economy is that they do not scale. And the primary challenge we face is an urgent need to deliver BASIC education at a minimum to the greatest number possible. For that, the computer – which talks, plays videos, and interacts AND has no limits as to the volume of content or users (the focus on XO is like blinkers blocking our view of shared computing – NComputing, Multipoint, etc.).

    Let’s stop throwing bricks and build something useful out of our collective experiences. I kinda thot that was the idea…

  47. What Laura was pointing out is that Sdenka Salas's school is was not part of the target list of schools, like Oscar says. We know this first hand. Also I would like to point out that Sdenka is not a common peruvian teacher, she studied with Dr Kobayashi in Osaka, Japan. Her school is in downtown Puno and thus not part of the deployment which was done in the most remote places.
    I'm glad to hear it will be in the next round, Sdenka can certainly take advantage of the XOs she gets.

  48. Jesse Mayo

    Global Digital DIvide hurts us all we have the some problem in the US among minorities it is really nothing new. I myself was a blue collar worker all my life now I am A+certified and love to build and configure computer. The Key is having mentors that care!

  49. Wayan:

    The comments at the Peru21 (newspaper) article are mostly politically charged and are general impressions of newcommers to the whole OLPC and constructivism proposals.

    IMHO none of the comments has a new, important, relevant information or idea presented so far.

    Perhaps one lists a series of technical/political failures of the current minister of education Mr. Chang but all of them are not directly related to the OLPC deployment.

  50. I just discovered that a Peruvian blogger went ahead and translated my entire article (!!!) as well as Oscar's comments to Spanish so the information also becomes accessible to people who don't speak English:
    http://www.volkanrivera.com/esp/?p=1960 (article) http://www.volkanrivera.com/esp/?p=1992 (first half of Oscar's comments) http://www.volkanrivera.com/esp/?p=2026 (second half of Oscar's comments)

  51. I just stumbled across two articles with interesting news about OLPC in Peru:

    (1) Peru will expand Una laptop por nino to a total of 810,000 XOs until July 2011: http://www.andina.com.pe/Espanol/Noticia.aspx?id=
    (2) 400 teachers will be the first Peruvian XO users to receive an upgrade to Sugar 0.88: http://www.losandes.com.pe/Educacion/20101026/425

  52. Raul, gracias para compartir tus experiencias y punto de vista:)

  53. I admire all you’ve written about this topic here but will you please develop additional in your ideas within the second and third paragraph.

  54. Definitivamente el Programa OLPC en el Perù se puede decir que ya fracaso, primero los profesores adscritos al programa, no estan en capacidad de generar nuevos entornos de aprendizaje en funciòn a la XO, segundo el Programa no tiene sostenibilidad, conozco escuelas donde mas del 50% de minicomputadoras esatán descompuestas (almacenadas en un rincon del aula), tercero no existe monitoreo los docentes se sientes abandonados, etc, etc.

  55. Carlos David Laura Quispe

    Pienso que el Programa OLPC podría ser muy beneficioso para el Perú, sin embargo aún estamos muy lejos de ello, mientras los docentes adscritos al Programa no tengan bien claro que es integrar las TIC al currículum escolar. Entonces tendremos docentes que simplemente no saben qué hacer con las maquinas, tendremos niños de 6 u 8 años que por ensayo y error aprenden a manipular más rápidamente la computadora que su profesor (seres digitales) y, entonces el docente se ve disminuido y pierde autoridad en su clase, en todos los casos que incluí en mi estudio se noto esto, al final docentes que simplemente no quieren usar las computadoras por quedar en ridículo frente a sus alumnos.

    También los contenidos instalados en la computadora (caso Wikipedia), no están acorde al contexto donde vive el niño, existe muchos términos técnicos que los niños no los entienden, así también en caso de la matemática y debemos tener cuidado en esto, recuerdo que en una observación que realice a una profesora ocurrió esto.

    “…trataban de un problema donde habían que realizarse sumas y restas…. Que si pepito tiene tantos soles y compra tal cosa a tantos soles cuánto le queda. Lo concreto que había que restar de 8 soles 3 soles…increíblemente la docente les indico que utilicen la calculadora que tiene la computadora.

    Finalmente, lo más importante se deben capacitar y monitorear constantemente a los docentes, pues es imposible enseñar lo que se desconoce o se conoce mal.


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